Eva Boenders tells us a bit about life as a JRS visitor, and the enthusiasm there for bikes!
I like attending Thursdays at the day centre of Jesuit Refugee Service. I never know who will come along. There may be new visitors. Or visitors who have been coming for a long time. I may catch some in a good mood, and others may be sad or anxious. No one Thursday is the same. Over the years I have tried different things to brighten up the mornings and nurture the crowd. I partnered up with Pret-a-Manger which now distributes its surplus sandwiches to our day centre. I handed out international newspapers while people were waiting for the reimbursement of their bus pass. I created a log to record visitors’ qualifications and wishes. How would they like to spend their day – awaiting status?
Initially, mostly men were recording interest. When a few months ago, The Bike Project launched a Learn To Ride A Bicycle programme for female asylum seekers, it took me no time to get a list together of interested candidates. The thrill of learning a new skill and managing the London roads has boosted the confidence of many women whose asylum claims have dragged on and whose pain lingers. It has been a fantastic initiative to get the ladies out of the day centre and introduce them to freedom. Learning to ride a bicycle and keeping the bike at the end of the course, has made an incredible difference in the lives of some of our day centre users. It has been a brilliant way of bringing movement in their day and empowering them to earn their own transportation. Jesuit Refugee Service is excited to have found a partner in the Bike Project.
Outreach and Development
Jesuit Refugee Service – UK
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Written on: 10 Dec 2014 | Author: Anna Chapman